Sunday, February 28, 2010

Three-week bedwetting update

We've been using the alarm for three weeks now. The first night I had to wake the BW up by shaking him for a good 10 seconds when the alarm went off. By the end of one week, he was getting up and beating me to the bathroom. (I still had to get up and help him reset the alarm.)

But I was a little frustrated that after two weeks he was still soaking his underwear before he was waking up. Then I had a minor aha moment: I had been clipping the sensor to the outside seam of the leg of his underwear, close to the crotch. In thinking about it, I realized that it was taking a lot of moisture to get that area wet so the alarm wasn't going off until he had pretty much soaked his underwear. I moved the sensor to the front of his underwear and just clipped it directly to the material right on front. Bingo! Within three nights he was waking up quickly enough that his underwear didn't even feel wet.

We had five dry nights last week, two of which he got up in the middle of the night (without the alarm going off) and went to the bathroom. I'm not putting the pull-ups over his underwear anymore as he is now not wetting heavy enough to soak his underwear or his pajamas. I'm not sure how much longer he'll need to wear the alarm but I'm pretty excited about the progress we've made!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Big brothers

On Thursday we were on our way to speech when Emily asked if they were taking showers that night. When I said yes, she started saying "Yay! Showers!" Alex and Tim piped up from the back of the van with "No, no showers, Emily." Which resulted in a volley of "Yes, showers!" and "No, Emily, no showers." The boys knew I would get on to them pretty quickly for arguing, so all of a sudden Alex changed his tune.

From the back I hear soft singing..."Nooo, Emileee, nooo showerrrrs..." To which again Emily replies, "Yes, Alex, showers!"

"No, Emily, I'm just singing to you...noooo, Emileee, nooo showerrrrs..."

I think they're taking this role of "big brother" pretty seriously--and perfecting their ability to pester their little sisters! :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A tired 4-year-old

This is what happens when Emily doesn't sleep during rest time at preschool (she's not actually hitting at me :))

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Videos of the girls

So you remember how Emily could hardly walk when she got home...

And Danielle had no balance to speak of and no leg strength. She would pull herself up the stairs using her arms so it took her forever to climb stairs...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book reports

At the kids' school, they start doing book and topic reports in first grade. Alex had his first one a few weeks ago on a book about a polar bear. More than anything else I want him to learn how to work through the process of an assignment like this. So we sat down and read the story a couple of times over a few days. Then we sat down and I asked him what the story was about. I wrote down everything he said as verbatim as possible...incomplete sentences and all. Then we went back through and made them into complete sentences. He's actually getting pretty good with that although he has no idea how to use verb tenses. Finally, I had him go through and number the sentences in what order the events occurred in the book. This type of exercise is really good for his sequencing skills. Then he wrote down his sentences for his book report.

This last week and this week he is doing a report on the planets. He brought home a book and we worked on reading it. We had a huge apraxia incident with the word "very" which shut everything down completely one day. On Saturday we started up again but I had to turn him over to Mark when things started out with "So tell me what you learned in this book..." "Planets." "Okay, what was this book about? What did you learn about planets?" "Book. Read."

At that point I went upstairs and told Mark I was going to explode. :) :) Alex knows how to talk in complete sentences, but he was hoping I would give up and let him out of it so he could write his spelling words, which is what he really wanted to be doing instead of his book report.

But with Mark's help Alex persevered and finished the book this weekend (us reading it and him reading it) and got some ideas down on paper. Sunday afternoon I worked with him on combining sentences and correcting them. We nearly had a meltdown (me too) over "is" versus "has."

As in..."Mars is a planet." "Mars has a planet."

Alex was convinced it was "has." So I had to bring it back to a sentence he knows how to say. I handed him an apple and wrote two sentences and asked him which one was correct.

"Alex is an apple." "Alex has an apple."

Of course he easily identified the correct sentence and we were able to build on that to help him understand the correct sentence for Mars, too. He wrote his rough draft of the report Sunday night (eight sentences; needed to be a minimum of seven).

Today he came home and redid three papers AND wrote his final draft of his report all before dinner. For Alex this is HUGE. He did all of his work without complaining and had time to play before dinner.

He has started bringing home more A's and C's (not sure why he avoids the B's, but whatever) so I'm hoping he can pull his grades up and demonstrate competency to be able to enter second grade next year. While we are very aware of his deficits and work with him (and his teacher) on addressing those, we do feel he is capable of doing the first grade work and are hoping he will finally decide he is too!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The innocence of children

Today was a gorgeous day was cloudy and all of 40 degrees, but compared to what we've had it was definitely gorgeous!

Mark was over working at the other house so I took advantage of the nice weather and took the kids to the playground. They were thrilled to get out of the house as was I. We walked to the park and started out on the "little" playground designed for the small kids. My kids like to play there but they can't swing (the swings are baby swings) so after about 30 minutes we moved to the "big" playground. The kids spent about 30 minutes on the swings and I was really impressed with Danielle's swinging! She can swing as high or higher than the boys without even a push to start from me. :)

After the swings they had a small snowball fight with some snow in a shady area on the playground. They didn't really get to play in the snow much this winter because every time we've had snow it's been really cold and I haven't let them go out.

I had noticed a photographer wandering around earlier and now saw that she was photographing a couple. They were a slightly older couple, so it could have been an anniversary shoot or an engagement shoot (or any number of other things...). Tim asked me what they were doing and I told him she was taking pictures of them.

Tim: "Are they married?--Oh, yes they're married."
Me: "How can you tell?"
Tim: "They're kissing!"

Please, God, let him hang on to that idea until he's about 30, okay?? :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spying on the neighbors

As we sat down to dinner, Tim piped up with the following in the most disgruntled manner a 6-year-old can muster:

"Our neighbors across the street are watching a movie again! They watch TV all the time. They don't even SHOWER!"

Watch what you say to Tim. If you tell him you watch TV apparently he's going to question your personal hygiene habits.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another day home

I really think I'm getting a taste of homeschooling other than actually doing curriculum prep. The kids seem to have had so many days off of school, and today was yet another one!

Usually I make the boys sit down and do their work first thing--it seems to work better or has in the past. But today I decided to let them play in the morning and do their work right after lunch. We had a great morning of playing. Playing with my kids really allows me to work on some character issues with them that I know don't get addressed at school or preschool. Tim and I spent a couple of hours working on a Lego creation from a book he has. He's really getting into Legos but he still needs some help to see exactly where the pieces need to go. In other year or so I think he's going to be one of those guys building national monuments out of Legos. :)

After lunch, the girls laid down on the couch and listened to an audio book while the boys settled in to do work. Both of the boys did a good job on their work although it's clear that Tim is doing a lot more playing than listening at school. I know...he's a boy and it's only kindergarten. And we recognize that but he's still got to be able to do the work if he wants to go into first grade next year. He's smart enough to do all of it, he'd just rather be playing. :) :) Alex is getting much better with writing sentences. I haven't started working with him on verb tenses so if anyone has any suggestions for teaching ELLs verb tenses I would love to hear them. And for the record...I love that "read" (present tense) and "read" (past tense) are spelled the same way. He gets his sentences correct and he doesn't even know it (it would actually be wrong the way he's trying to say it).

I was sad to have to tell the kids they couldn't play in the snow yesterday. We had about 4" but with the windchill it was only 12 degrees outside and that's just too cold for them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy birthday to the newest member of our family!

Got your attention there, didn't I? ;)

I didn't want to post until everything was done, but I am now happy to report that I am a proud big sister for the second time!

My newest little sister, Brianna, just turned 13. She joined our family last month and her adoption will be finalized in August. The kids adore their new aunt and I think she's rather fond of her nieces and nephews.

Happy birthday, Brianna, and welcome to the family! :) :)

(I actually do have pictures of my new little sis, but with the laptop malware issue and reformatting the hard drive I haven't been able to get them on the post yet. I'm already a week late with this post so it's going up without pictures which I will hopefully be able to add soon!) they are!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Thursday night I had the boys write out their valentines for their parties on Friday. I had already written out Danielle's and Emily's but I knew the boys could write their own, especially since Tim's teacher had requested that his class only write who the cards were from, not to.

So I got Alex going on writing his and then handed Tim's over. If you remember, Tim is the one who has chosen to be Tim because it's shorter to write than Timmy...or Timothy...or Zhenya. :) So in writing out his valentine's cards, he proceeded to go through the whole stack (all 16) and write a "T" on each one in the stack, then an "i" on each one, then the "m". I think he thought it was less work. I didn't bother telling him he still wrote the same number of letters. :)

At least he's trying to be efficient!

Friday, February 12, 2010

I hope she's always this insightful

School really wears Danielle out and by the end of the week she's pretty much done. On Thursdays they always have homework due on Friday...find 3 pictures that start with the letter for the next week, glue them on the page, and write the words. Yesterday was the letter "V". Since Danielle's English vocabulary is still pretty limited it's hard for her to understand "find a picture that starts with the letter..." so I usually cut out several pictures for her that start with the appropriate letter. We go through them to work on vocabulary then she picks which ones she wants to use for her homework. She glues them on and then we use hand-over-hand so I can help her write her words. (If I let her write "vegetables" by herself it would cover the page!)

She had finished gluing and writing the words yesterday and needed to write her name on the bottom. She can't spell her name independently yet but she does know how to write the letters of her name, so I told her to write a letter "D".

Complete meltdown.

You would have thought I'd asked her to write out the Constitution. :)

She cried and cried, said "Mama, heellppp" (but didn't want to listen when I tried to help verbally), and just kind of made a mess of herself. She wasn't being loud or throwing a tantrum so I just let her cry it out. At one point I turned to her and said "Are you all done crying?" to which she replied while crying

"IIII neeed uhhhh NAAAPPPP...."

Truer words have never been spoken.

But it wasn't an option since it was 4:30 and we were waiting for Alex and Emily to finish speech. So once she had calmed back down and stopped crying I handed her back her pencil and she wrote a D. Then an a, n, i, E, l, l, E.

And she was fine the rest of the day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Update on the alarm (and other random news)

Tuesday night...alarm at 5am. Mark got up with the BW and he was already headed towards the bathroom.

Wednesday night...NO ALARM!!! The BW woke up at 5:30am (he might have been woken up by my alarm, thinking it was his alarm LOL), got up and went to the bathroom, and went back to bed. I consider that progress!

In other news, we just found out that insurance decided to stop covering Alex's speech therapy.


We now have a pending $3500(!!) bill for speech. I am working on getting this straightened out but I am a little irritated that it takes them 3 months to let me know that we are no longer covered.

In more other news, we got a bid for the HVAC system at the "dirty house". We had been planning on about $10K for all of it and hoping (praying!) it wouldn't be much higher than that.

$6700. Wonderful, wonderful news. Balances out that $3500 from speech. ;)

Monday, February 08, 2010

A solution for bedwetting?

I've discussed our resident bedwetter (henceforth known as BW) before on the blog, although I still won't share any details as to who it is. :) I've been praying for months that I would be able to find a used bedwetting alarm--after all, if they work so well there should be lots of used ones available, right?

A few days ago I felt a prompting to check Craigslist for the alarms again...and sure enough one was listed! It's exactly the kind I'd been wanting to get except about half the price of buying it new. We picked it up on Saturday.

My BW was super-excited to try this out. He doesn't want to wet the bed any more than we want him too, so he was excited about this thing "that would help his body learn to get up and go to the bathroom."

My biggest concern with the alarms was that they're supposed to be pretty loud. I had tested it during the day Saturday and it didn't seem terribly loud but then we weren't all sleeping at the time either. Saturday night at 2am I heard a weird buzzing and woke up enough to realize it was the alarm. I hopped out of bed and went into the boys' room, half expecting my BW to be freaked out by the buzzing and vibration of the alarm on his shoulder.

Nope. Dead to the world. I had to shake him for a good 30 seconds to get him to wake up enough to get out of bed. ;) Thankfully everyone else stayed asleep too!

Since I wasn't keen on the idea of changing bedclothes in the middle of the night, we are using regular underwear with the alarm sensor clipped to them then a pullup over that. I figured this way I would only have to change his underwear and not all of the bedclothes (I don't really function all that well in the middle of the night so this is for everyone's benefit). So after BW went to the bathroom we swapped out the wet underwear and put on clean stuff and I sent him back to bed. I'm keeping a full change of clothes for him in the bathroom to make it faster and easier to get us both back to bed (without waking anyone else up).

Sunday night...alarm at 10:30pm and he was sort of groggily awake (but completely clueless as to what was going on).

Monday night...alarm at 1am he was up and walking to the bathroom before I made it into his room. Yay!!!

If I understand everything correctly, once he is consistently waking up to the alarm his body will start to learn to wake up before he starts peeing and he will be able to just get up and go without setting off the alarm. Right now he is still wetting a lot in the pullups, but that is supposed to decrease as we use the alarm.

Is it sad that the most exciting thing for me this weekend was buying a bedwetting alarm?? We did lots of other fun stuff, but by far I am most excited about this!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Recent pictures

Exploiting my children after Christmas:

(In the background you can see the other three sitting on the steps waiting for more turns with the vacuum!)

Getting help from big brother

The little shadow who manages to pop up everywhere I go :)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

More surgery

This was not at all a surprise to Mark and I as we were pretty sure Danielle's patching was not doing the trick. She will be having eye surgery again in April. :(

At this point they think they will only be operating on one eye--her right one. We've been patching the left eye to try to strengthen the right one but it's just not cooperating. :) She still does not use both eyes to focus. Thankfully her left eye seems to be holding steady so hopefully we'll just have one more surgery and then be done. The nurse said they usually don't do more than three surgeries on a child although they can.

I struggle with her having surgery again because it feels like it's more of a cosmetic surgery to make her eyes look better. But in reality it is critical that her eyes work together. If we allow her right eye to continue to drift, eventually her body will stop using that eye for vision and it will go blind. We certainly want to give Danielle every opportunity for the best vision possible, so if surgery is what it takes we'll do it!

It is a relatively minor surgery and we know what to expect. Plus we have the benefit now of Danielle having a better understanding of what's going on and a better attachment to us. Right now we've got her scheduled on a day she's out of school so she won't even have to miss that. She will be very happy about that--the girl loves school!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Happy birthday, Danielle!

I never post on my kids' actual birthdays but Danielle is now six! :)

Thus starts the downfall of me being able to keep track of ages...a week ago it was 7, 6, 5, and it's 7, 6, 6, and 4 and it gets worse as the year goes on. Once we hit September and Emily's birthday we'll be back to sequential. Ahhh...

Danielle's birthday was a little traumatic for her. It comes shortly after Christmas which was also a bit of a difficult time for her. Christmas was the first holiday she had celebrated since coming home that she also would have celebrated in Ukraine. We saw quite a bit of regression and a lot of behaviors coming back that had disappeared shortly after coming home from Ukraine. We had just started to get a good handle on those and then her birthday came, which she also would have celebrated in Ukraine.

She was very excited about her birthday and we got a big kick out of her opening her cards and presents. We kept things very small and she only got a few gifts (one from us and a few from grandparents) but she really loved them all so it was a good balance. I would love to think that things will settle down now but Valentine's Day is coming. Anything that involves parties and candy at school sets her off big time. They used to get LOTS of candy in the orphanage so that is a big trigger for her. She just hasn't quite been able to dissociate candy and the orphanage yet so when she gets candy it brings back a lot of the orphanage residual behaviors--lots of "mine" behaviors, grabbing, not being willing to share, etc. Thankfully we don't have any problems with tantrums or anything like that!

Danielle is slowly learning her letters and is working very hard at writing her name. She's finally starting to get the significance of letters and that they make words. She really wants to be able to read like her older brother so she "pretends" to read quite a bit. When she opened her first birthday card (upside down!) she "read" "Happy birthday to MEEEE!" and Mark and I couldn't help but laugh. She was positive that's what it said (she wasn't even close). :) :)